Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Beni Imo an Okinawan Superfood

Beni Imo or Okinawan purple sweet potato is one of those foods that could be classified as a true superfood. This is because one medium sized purple sweet potato contains over 20000 international units of beta carotine vitamin A, which is four times your recommended daily requirement. It also contains 1/2 of your daily requirement of vitamin C in just one spud. This is in addition to being loaded with fiber, something that many people are lacking in their modern day fast food diets. There are a couple different varieties of these purple yams that range from a color of white/light purple all the way to the most beautiful shade of royal purple you have ever seen. I was lucky and was able to get some of the Darkest variety recently while visiting Mistuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights. Here is a couple pictures of them. I placed the "Baked" potato I cooked on a green plate to show the truely deep hue of the purple once it is cooked.

I can remember being at my in-laws house in the village of Yoza, a small hamlet of Itoman, and hearing the beni imo man walking down the narrow side streets crying out the words "Yaaaaaa-Kiiiii-Mooooo" in an acient means of product marketing. The cart he was pushing had a charcoal fired roaster that would have fresh hot Beni Imo ready to eat. The tasty potatoes were probably about 200 to 300 yen apiece at that time. Not bad for all the work that guy was doing pushing that cart around everywhere.

Recently, I have noticed them showing up in more and more Asian food stores around the Chicagoland area. This is unusual because many times they can only be found closer to the westcoast. I believe the reason for their scarcity in the midwest is because when they are grown outside of the US they must be irradiated to prevent insect introduction into the states. This process of treatment with heat and ultraviolet rays does not harm the potato just the bugs that may be hiding. The process however is not cheap and as a result it becomes non-cost effective to ship them.

I hear they are also extremely popular in high end Japanese and asian restaurants. And have heard them mentioned several times while watching the food network on television. Now that you know they're out their please don't buy every last one of them I need them for my diet. Try looking at places like Mitsuwa or H Mart for these purple yams. Maybe they will get more in if the demand increases. Expect to pay around $2.99 a pound for these tasty spuds.


  1. Hi Thomas,
    Where can we buy IMO in New York City
    Stan E.

  2. I'm not sure where you would find them in MYC but I can tell you they are seasonal and that they are hard to find in the Contenential US because of the irraidiation process they must undergo to make it into the country. I think the ones we find come from Hawaii but I'm not positive about that. I've heard they are much easier to find on the west coast but many times are bought up by high end asian resturaunts for use in their menus.

    I would begin my search at Mitsuwa marketplace.

    New York's favorite Asian mall is actually located across the Hudson in Edgewater, New Jersey. This is because there's no room for a 100,000 square-foot Asian mall in Manhattan or Queens.

    There is a Mitsuwa Shuttle Bus that leaves 15 minutes past each hour from Platform #51 in the Port Authority Bus Terminal (on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets) for the half-hour ride.

    I know that they have these purple sweet potatoes at mitsuwa market in Chicago so they should be able to get them in New York. I would ask the manager if you don't find them. Hope this answers your question Stan. Thanks for reading my blog.

  3. Why can't they be grown in the US?

  4. At one time there was a farm in iowa that was growing them but when I contacted them they informed me that they were no longer growing purple swwet potatoes. I have been finding them lately in the Chicago Area though at Super H Mart in Niles and Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights. They range from $1.79 to $1.99 a pound. A bit expensive but well worth the expenditure.

  5. They're grown in Hawaii on the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island.

  6. Hi

    I found this online shop for Beni Imo Powder :